Sunday, 13 November 2016
Remembrance 2016 has been well and truly dealt with today.
In the morning the church had a special Remembrance service, as Anglican churches do, and we read out some names of the fallen, four I had provided then others offered the names of their relatives or known friends. I read out the Binyon piece, aided by a young lass and the two minutes was observed. It appeared more like three to me!
In the chilly windy afternoon the Royal British Legions main District Remembrance Service was held as it has been annually since the War Memorial had been erected in 1921. The crowd gathered rather slowly today, the wind chill, fussy sergeants, and lots of parading kids probably to blame. The crowd arrived, the dignitaries shivered into place, the troops paraded, the Sergeant cried "At Ease!" and so the Vicar began the service.
Unlike St Paul's I felt this service somewhat 'religious' and 'British.' That is there were no names read out bringing it home to people and the words here were rather supporting 'our glorious dead' rather than all dead. Our curate touched upon sacrifice as he would but never in a jingoistic manner. Rather he clearly showed the difference between soldier sacrifices and the sacrifice of Jesus himself for our sin. He did not limit himself to 'our dead' but 'all dead' and looked to Jesus rather than a bland religious offering. After that this vicar hear appeared rather dismal to be honest, I was disappointed.
In most remembrances these days it has become common to remember all war dead not just ours, and we are aware of the bad amongst the good, and desire less war than some appear to desire. A bringing enemies together is uppermost. This service today did not mention this and was similar to those I saw as a child in the 50's when a forgiving attitude was harder to propose.
Several men who attended in the past were not there today, the aged soldier is fading away. At one point I attempted to speak to one but his hearing had gone long ago and his hips were following. Poor old lad was struggling up the road and I wish I had offered some help, I do not know if he would accept this of course, old soldiers are still soldiers, and he may have had a car waiting. The others I wanted to speak to had run. We need to speak to these old men before it is too late.
The people gather and I wonder what they think of the names on the memorial? Do they consider them or just their namesakes or relatives? They must have some regard as they turn up in cold dreich weather to attend this meeting. On the other hand with 40,000 population, at least half adults, why do only a few hundred show up?
Amongst all these faces I recognised a few, but only a few. Where do all these people come from? It never ceases to amaze me that a crowd shown on TV at a football match in the town or in the local paper always contains 100% total strangers! Twenty years I have been here and nobody I know wishes to be famous!
Next to the Memorial stands a separate memorial to HMS "Kite" a Sloop sunk while supporting the the 'Arctic Convoy.' Two torpedoes hit the ship and she sank in a ball of flame in 90 seconds. A handful of men were picked up. The U-Boat that sank the ship was on its first patrol and the next day aircraft from the accompanying Aircraft carrier sunk that submarine. Such is war.
In our minds we have an image of the Great War and a differing image of the Second World War. These images vary sharply from the minds image of wars in other lands today. While we will consider actions in which 'our boys' have participated, Falklands, Northern Ireland, Iraq etc we keep an image there in our minds. That image differs sharply from how we see Syria or Democratic Congo today. Those wars do not interest us and we would rather be free from them and the affects thereof. People die, civilians suffer, while the weapons are more effective the situation changes not for those suffering. However we see these wars as different and wish to be free from them. Sadly war will continue because human nature never changes.